Feb 16, 2021

Disclose the Three Iconic Wines of Portugal’s North Region

The Light, Bold, Fresh and Rather Sensual ‘Vinho Verde’ The amazing Vinho Verde (green wine) – a name that comes from its colour and origin (it is named after the region where it cames from – the Vinho Verde region) and not from its age – is considered as aromatic, low alcohol, and often slightly […]

The Light, Bold, Fresh and Rather Sensual ‘Vinho Verde’

The amazing Vinho Verde (green wine) – a name that comes from its colour and origin (it is named after the region where it cames from – the Vinho Verde region) and not from its age – is considered as aromatic, low alcohol, and often slightly bubbly, although not every wine has these characteristics. Depending on the varieties used, there are different flavours. When it comes to white Vinho Verde, Loureiro tends to be floral, Trajadura tends to have a steely flavour, Arinto tends to be mineral, Avesso also tends to be mineral but combined with creamy notes, and Alvarinho tends to be mineral and slightly fragrant. Moreover, the Alvarinho, Loureiro, and Trajadura are the main grapes used to make Vinho Verde, so look for a wine that is made from these varieties before moving onto the others. For instance, the Quinta da Aveleda, Quinta de Santa Cristina, and Quinta da Lixa are great options for a better understanding of this wine.

Over the past few years, the Vinho Verde region has changed considerably as the country and the world have grown an appreciation for it. Despite the recent modernization, not all the ancestral techniques have disappeared. It is because of this intersection that this wine is famous, having several experimental vineyards and created wines that did not really exist before its fame, such as single varietal or oak-aged ones. Moreover, many producers are now investing in biodynamic and organic techniques.

Port Wine, One of the Great Classic European Wines

This iconic wine is one of the great classic European wines and its ancient history is a long one, and it is produced in the mountainous Douro Valley. In 1756, the vineyards of the Douro became the first vineyard area in the world to be legally demarcated. Port is famed for its distinctive character that comes from the uniqueness of the climate, soil, grape variety, and winemaking tradition. The grapes essentially used to produce it are mainly indigenous varieties such as the Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca, or Tinta Barroca. After harvesting and squeezing these varieties, Port is fermented like a normal wine but at a certain point it is blocked by adding local brandy, which widens the aromatic horizons and thickens it.

The first shipments of wine under the name Port date back to 1678 and although the wine is produced in the upper Douro, it is traditionally exported from the city of Porto. Until the 20th century, the wine was carried down the Douro river from the vineyards in special boats known as Rabelos, it was then unloaded into the ‘lodges’ to be aged, blended, bottled, and finally shipped. At the Port Wine cellars such as Cálem Port Cellars, and Cockburn’s Port Cellars, the visitors can learn about these processes.

The Delicious and Outstanding Douro Table Wines

Last but not least, there are the Douro table wine. Although this region is mainly associated with the Port wine, it also produces just as much table wine (non-fortified wines) commonly known as ‘Douro wines’. This style of wines produces a range of light, Bordeaux-style to rich Burgundian-style wines, aged in new oak. Some established Port houses that decided to make table wines are not starting from scratch since they already had thriving vineyards on prime soils, and decades, if not centuries, of viticultural experience. So, it comes as no surprise that most Douro red wines are made from the same grape varieties used in Port, like Touriga Nacional, Tinta Roriz, Touriga Franca, Tinta Cão, and Tinta Barroca. Since the 1970s, some new high-quality wines have been produced but now we can see the beginning of an exciting new phase in the development of Douro table wines due to the emergence of dynamic young winemaking talent and progress by some of the more established pioneers, which is why the wines of Quinta do Crasto are highly recommended. They received the greatest distinction in 2008, when the magazine Wine Spectator considered Quinta do Crasto Reserva Vinhas Velhas 2005 the third best wine in the world that year, giving it a score of 95 points out of a hundred.

Text by Wine Tourism Portugal

Photo 1 and 2 credits: Wine Tourism Portugal

Photo 3 credits: Caves Cálem

Photo 4 credits: Quinta do Crasto